Striker Kim Shin-wook scored four goals as South Korea hammered Sri Lanka 8-0 at home for their second straight victory in the ongoing World Cup qualifying campaign on Thursday.
South Korea, No. 37 in the FIFA rankings, predictably dominated the 202nd-ranked Sri Lanka, with five goals in the first half and three more in the second half at Hwaseong Sports Complex Main Stadium in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.
Kim netted a career-high four goals in his first start under head coach Paulo Bento, while captain Son Heung-min chipped in two for his first multigoal effort since November 2017.
It was the largest margin of victory for South Korea since an 8-0 victory over Laos in September 2015, during the qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, also played at Hwaseong.
South Korea have now won both of their matches in Group H in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They opened their qualifying bid with a 2-0 victory over Turkmenistan last month.
Next up for South Korea will be a highly anticipated match against North Korea in Pyongyang next Tuesday. North Korea have won their first two matches, too.
Kim Shin-wook, the tallest South Korean player at 196 centimeters, earned his first starting nod under Bento, and he was flanked on the attacking line by Son and Hwang Hee-chan.
Midfielder Nam Tae-hee, having recovered from multiple injuries that once stalled his international career, got his first start since last November, joined in midfield by teen sensation Lee Kang-in.
Paik Seung-ho lined up as the defensive midfielder, in front of the four backs: Hong Chul, Kwon Kyung-won, Kim Min-jae and Kim Moon-hwan.
The four defenders spent more time in the offensive zone, while starting goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo barely broke a sweat at the other end.
South Korea opened the scoring just 10 minutes into the contest, with captain Son Heung-min on the receiving end of some nifty passing.
Lee Kang-in, an 18-year-old midfielder making his second international appearance, sent a perfect through ball to left full back Hong Chul, whose cross found Son for a low shot past goalkeeper Sujan Perera.
The home team went up by 2-0 seven minutes later, as Son set up Kim Shin-wook’s first international goal under Bento on a fast break.
Hwang Hee-chan’s header from Lee Kang-in’s corner kick made it 3-0 for South Korea after 20 minutes. Then just after the half-hour mark, Kim scored his second goal of the match, as he headed in a Kim Moon-hwan cross for a 4-0 lead.
South Korea were awarded a penalty during added time, when Chalana Chameera was called for a handball violation in the box, and Son stepped up to convert the spot kick to give South Korea a 5-0 cushion at halftime.
Kim completed the hat trick in the 54th minute by converting a Nam Tae-hee setup, and then picked up his fourth goal 10 minutes later with an easy header off Hong Chul’s cross, putting South Korea up 7-0.
Kwon Chang-hoon’s goal in the 76th rounded out the scoring for South Korea, who held Sri Lanka without a shot.
From the second round, the eight group winners, plus four-best runners-up, will advance to the third round. South Korea are chasing their 10th consecutive World Cup appearance.
South Korea are undefeated in their past seven matches, with five wins and two draws. (Yonhap)